Tag Archives: Bandcamp

News & Blues

Just before I resume regular “Official Duites” here, I wanted to take a quick moment to post about… Well, a variety of different things.

First, a big thanks to those who have checked out Two Hands and our first release, the support means a lot!

Second, as a fan of Bandcamp, I was really pleased to see their latest announcement about the addition of an integrated shopping cart. While that may sound like a rather small, inconsequential thing, just from a buyer point of view I can see that will come in very handy – no longer will I need to go through separate transactions on the odd occasion I buy more than one thing. For artists and labels, it means receiving one transaction for multiple purchases, which will cut down on a few assocaited fees¹; so kudos to Bandcamp for this development. I firmly believe these kinds of continual improvements are ensuring Bandcamp is the premier place for online music distribution.

The only feature I’d really like to see them implement now is the ability to purchase a download as a gift for someone else, which I have wanted to do a couple of times and was a feature available on the now defunct Amie Steet. (I think that might be particularly useful to those using Bandcamp as a fundraising platform, especially so if the pricing format is a flat rate rather than ‘X-or-more’, which makes every purchase count). I realise there are “workarounds”, but a few times I’ve purchased an album and thought someone else would really enjoy it afterwards – being able to make a purchased download exclusively available to someone other than the purchaser would be awesome.

In other news, along with a few really awesome releases that I need to talk about very soon – Wreck And Refernce’s rather good Black Cassette being one of them – I’ve been listening to quite a bit of old blues music lately – mostly the stuff that falls under Delta, electric, folk and harmonica blues, so artists like Little Walter, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sonny Boy Williamson (II), Howlin Wolf and Son House et al, have been getting quite a bit of attention.

I’m not going to launch into a full-on post about the music, it’s history or why it’s attracted my attention lately, but just because I can, I’m going to post Glory Be by Lightnin’ Hopkins, a track that’s really just brilliant.

S4E

1. This actually depends on how individual transactions are processed; which I don’t have any definite insight to as yet. However, I do assume that as each purchase is individually processed via PayPal, each transaction would attract the base fee from PayPal; which in Oz is 30¢ for each one – not much, but it’d add up to a fair portion of any profit under certain circumstances.

Image: Blues by Bénédicte Mackengle


Bandcamp & How To (Let Someone Else) Use It

What's Homer Simpson got to do with any of this? Not much at all, really, except his campaign slogan - Can't Someone Else Do It? - got stuck in my head after I wrote that title. Let's just say he's pointing at something kinda cool, like I'm about to.

Back when I first started writing about music here, I posted about some of my favourite online music resources. Things have changed a bit since then, like Amazon buying out Amie Street (which sucked), but Bandcamp has consistently proven to be one of the best, for artists and listeners alike.

Changes – as far as I know – have been relatively minor, but every little tweak makes the site much more user-friendly from the casual browser point of view. A year ago, I lamented the lack of options for consumers to use the site simply to discover something new – the way the site worked best was if you already knew what you were looking for. This is still fairly true; you can surf tags, which are most commonly genres, moods and locations, but even then a lot of releases remain hidden by tags that are too few or too obscure.

More recently, Bandcamp has introduced a feature where artists can recommend other albums to customers who download their releases. In action, once you’re taken to the page where you can access the download, any albums that have been actively recommended will appear below the download link.

I think this is a great idea, and one that I hope is well-utilised by the artists and labels that use Bandcamp. Personally, I’d like to see this expanded to various other methods people can use to browse the site and find music – I often just take a look at the first page of most recently added releases (unfiltered by tags) and have a bit of a listen to anything that attracts my attention, but as that means I’m browsing over 400 releases on the one page, making a judgement call based simply on name, title and cover art can sometimes be very wrong, and I certainly don’t have the time to listen to them all.

As there is no standardised tagging or categorisation on Bandcamp, I’d really like to see the tags the artists have chosen for individual releases on that initial page in a small summary (or perhaps just the top 3, as chosen by them), at least that would make having user-customisable tags a little more worthwhile.

In the absence of that – if I found the time – I thought it would be a brilliant idea to start a regular feature, or even a different blog, dedicated to finding and featuring great releases available on Bandcamp. The problem is, I don’t really have the resources for that, time or otherwise, thus I introduced the month-end swag posts featuring (free) music from all over the place instead. Also, I’m not the only one who thought this was a great idea, nor was I even the first – more importantly, other people have put this idea into action.

I stumbled upon two sites this evening that are doing exactly that, and worth a moment or two to check out:

bandcamp hunter – daily posts, no preferred genres stated other than local (Melbourne, Australia) artists.

BandCampLike – also daily posts, highlighting ambient, electronic, classical and metal releases.

S4E


Tomorrow’s Conversations

I’m now at the end of my second night in the new house, with still days worth of work ahead getting everthing organised (possibly months, knowing me – once the essentials have been set up, I have a habit of thinking things can stay in boxes until ‘later’. In fact, during this last move, someone asked me how old one of the rather beat up looking boxes I had with me was. I couldn’t give a definite answer, but it’s somewhere in the realm of 20-odd years old, and still containing much of the same contents¹ as it did when I used it to move into the first place I ever lived in on my own. It’s held up well; I might throw it a 21st birthday party).

The last night at the other house was spent playing through some of the recent albums I acquired during a rare moment of quiet (save for the music), which was a nice change of pace from alternating between trying to understand someone who speaks like this guy, then wishing I hadn’t understood the things I did. Nevermind. The important thing is I have been reunited with something I missed like crazy while all my gear was in storage… My speakers.

I have no particular sentimental attachment to them, I’ll just point out, but the horrible little speaker on my laptop does (most) music a grave disservice, and the headphones…well, I just don’t like ’em much for extended listening. There’s been a lot of really great music I’ve held off writing about simply because I didn’t often get a long enough chance to sit down and listen to it via  decent equipment, so lots to catch up on there.

In the mean time, as I sit here and write this, I’m listening through Tomorrow’s Conversations, a compilation album put together by Birds Of Passage’s Alicia Merz.

As much as I found my housing situation a little trying, I also got to spend a good amount of time with family I love (and their particularly colourful housemate). Knowing that my possessions – from the trivial incendiary items to the irreplacable heirlooms and mementoes – were safe and secure, ready to be brought to a new home at any moment…well, it’s a comfort not everyone who finds themselves suddenly without a home of their own has.

I had a fair warning, and while things didn’t quite turn out the way I planned, I at least got to plan the most important things –  many others in the world this year did not have the same luxury. This album has been put together to raise funds for victims of the earthquake that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand on the 22nd of February this year. 181 people lost their lives and it has been estimated that 10 000 homes will need to be demolished, which is just a small indication of the devastation that was caused by the earthquake.

The album contains 13 tracks by 12 different artists, and even without its charitable cause I’d be recommending it to you because it truly is a stellar compilation. I’m familiar with a few names – worriedaboutsatan, Her Name Is Calla and Birds Of Passage, to be exact, so all up I’ve been introduced to nine other artists via this compilation – I haven’t heard a single track yet that didn’t make me glad for it. Ambient, classical, downtempo, electronica… It all adds up to beautiful late night listening.

You can grab this album via Bandcamp for a US$6 or more donation, which is a small price to pay for music as it is, but much needed in NZ.

S4E

1. Highly important things, I’ll just add. Like my Care Bears colouring book from when I was 9, and the picture of a ballerina that was on my wall when I was 12, and all the Mandrake comics I had when I was 13.


Dark & Darker

“…like a whisper taking you back to the dark part of your memory and dreams…”


That’s the self-described music of Opium Dream Estate, a musical project founded in 2006 by Sébastyén D. I recently chanced upon the EP Through the White Landscape, which was released back in August over on Bandcamp. Gentle and haunting, perhaps a little bit like Rivulets meets Boduf Songs with a decidedly French  shoegaze feel. The EP is currently available as a free download and well worth checking out if you like the sound of ambient, gothic neofolk. You can also take a listen to any or all of ODE’s  four previous releases – Estranged Memories, Anamorphosis, Spira Spiritum Noctis and Alpha/Omega.

Sébastyén D runs the label Seventh Crow Records, which has a few other releases on Bandcamp at the moment also for free download –  a various artists compilation titled The Haunted Looking Glass; a 12-track album released on 4th November by Art of Empathy called Posthuman Decadence, another Sébastyén D project called Orchid’s Children with Last Days of Decadence and Hourglass & Waterlillies – all of which are tagged with ethereal, goth, ambient, indie, industrial and neofolk.

Only The Tress Remember is the first of 6 tracks on the release.

 

 

More dark Bandcamp-ery with this fairly recent self-titled release by SIΔMESE NOIR. There seems to be pretty limited info out there at the moment in regards to this project, which could well be the point, all I can turn up is “New York based solo project”.

The symbol in the name generally seems to indicate “witch house” these days, and I suppose it’s fairly accurate. I say suppose merely because I haven’t made much of an effort to overly familiarise myself with the genre, but I will say the more I hear of it the more I become convinced it’s actually a new name rather than a new genre. Anywho, that’s beside the point, this music is of the eerily-slow-motion type – think Chinese water torture in a haunted room that has a creepy looking kid with black eyes playing trip-hop at drone-speed and in weird loops… Translate that, if you can, into sound and you’d be in the ball park. At night.

You might be a little unsettled, but you’ll be compelled to stay. You can download it for free here.

In Quiet is the first of 5 tracks on the release.

S4E


Jesy Fortino Self-Releases 5 Tiny Vipers…

Jesy Fortino, under the Tiny Vipers moniker, has been responsible for some of my favourite music in recent times. In fact, her second album – 2009’s Life on Earth – was not only my favourite release of the year, but it also was the first time I’ve ever been able to name one without any hestitation or endless self-debate. Thus, I was quite pleased to learn there were a few tracks I haven’t heard yet available to purchase via Bandcamp.

If you’re a Tiny Vipers fan in the league of wanting to have a copy of any and every song Jesy has been vaguely associated with, you won’t need any encouragement from me to go grab them post-haste as the tracks available you’ll be unlikely to find elsewhere, and you’ll certainly not be disappointed if you do so. There are three singles to purchase individually, as well as a two track EP containing parts 1 and 2 of of a song titled Blades of Grass, which is a home recorded ambient piece that was sent out on CDr to those who pre-ordered Life on Earth via Sub Pop. It’s easy enough to let the songs speak for themselves, so I’ll do just that. Here’s three of the five available tracks:

Another Day’s Sun features Colin Roper on backing vocals (a name I’ve not heard before, but a bit of swift research consisting of google and little else suggests he may be the same Colin who is ex-Cobra High and Loving Thunder. This is conjecture based purely on the fact that both bands were based in Seattle, as is Jesy).

Fell In A Well, according to the Bandcamp page, was originally recorded for Hands Across the Void but didn’t make the cut. The track does, however, feature on her first, self-titled release, which was pre-Hands… Whether or not they are the same version I can’t say, as that remains the only CD I’m yet to purchase. Places That No Longer Exist is a demo from Life On Earth, home recorded on 4-track, and again didn’t make the final cut for the album.

Fell In A Well would have been quite at home on Hands Across the Void, though I can see why it was left off – it is rather more like a b-side. It’s fairly clear the other two are still in demo form. Places That No Longer Exist is much quieter than the other two so I recommend the use of headphones to listen to that one. They are, however, unmistakebly Tiny Vipers’ tracks, very much in the realm of the Life on Earth (i.e. delicate, ethereal melodies and sparse guitar picking accompanied by that hypnotic voice, with the occasional chant and jangle). I’ve particularly favourited Another Day’s Sun, and hope to hear a fully realised version of that on album #3.

I have to defer comment on the Blades of Grass EP for the time being, as I haven’t purchased it yet. It is streamable, but with my current data usage limits I’m not keen on essentially using the same amount of bandwidth to listen and not actually have a copy afterwards. I can tell you that the two tracks run a total of around 40 minutes (which, coupled with the Sub Pop description of ‘ambient’, leads me to suspect they might be much in the same vein as the experimental music found on Empire Prism).

I’d say the release of these new/old tracks is aimed directly at existing fans – a little taster while we eagerly await the next studio album, plus the opportunity for those that missed out to get a copy of Blades of Grass. In that sense, they should tide you over quite nicely.

For the casual listener or simply curious, it’s a little less likely you’ll get further than a quick listen, so I think it would be mutually beneficial if I also directed your attention elsewhere – such as the wonderful Daytrotter session, a free download (albeit after a little registration and download manager rigamarole) of three songs from Life on Earth performed late last year – four when you take into account the first is a medley. A very good introduction to Tiny Vipers. I also highly recommend New Dawn Fades, a cover of the Joy Division song by The Sight Below, to which Jesy lent her vocal talents and manages to do that rare thing where it’s both true to the original and given a unique spin. Check it out in the video below, or just head straight to RCRD LBL and download it for free.

S4E


Invisible Elephant – CD Release Update

Just a quick update for those who are waiting…

The artwork for the CD release of Invisible Elephant‘s album The Lights Go Out has been decided upon but is being held under wraps, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see for that one. The release date is currently slated for May 10 – which, if all goes according to plan, means not having to wait too much longer!

The release will be in quite limited numbers, so I suggest acting quickly if you want to be able to lay claim to one of them. Those who do will be supplied with a further 3 bonus tracks unavailable any other way, making it a worthwhile purchase indeed.

In the meantime, and if you haven’t yet done so, you can still grab the original album via Bandcamp, well worth the download and highly recommended for fans of shoegaze, post-rock and psychedelia. (I also recommend paying particular attention to You Can Have It All – great stuff, and likely to take you by surprise even if you are paying close attention).

If you need further convincing, take a listen right here to two tracks from the album – Communication (Part II) and Time. (Thanks to dayne815).


Of Course Everyone Wants to Know What I’m Listening To

Pillars and Tongues - Lay of Pilgrim Park

I was much quicker on the mark with this one. By which I mean the latest recording of Pillars and Tongues, released back in February.

Called Lay of Pilgrim Park, the release is limited to 500 vinyl pressings (with a complimentary download) and also available to purchase as a download only. With the magic that I thought their Daytrotter session was, as well as the album Protection (album? the four tracks do have a total running time of about 50 mins, but I suppose whether you consider that an album or EP is a minor detail), I had pretty high expectations for the new release, and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed. Pillars and Tongues  have their craft finely tuned, and Lay of Pilgrim Park is the perfect evidence for it.

The LP can be purchased from the Endless Nest store as well as from Midheaven, where the album can also be purchased in digital format.

Autistic Daughters - Uneasy Flowers

I’ve also just developed a keen fondness for Autistic Daughters, a recommendation on the basis of my resurging interest in P&T, as well as a recent liking for Natural Snow Buildings and fellow Kranky label-mates To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie. On that basis, the rec definitely has merit, but Autistic Daughters stand apart as unique. Blending similar elements, Autistic Daughters are mellow, blues-y and downright seductive.  If you consider the three aforementioned artists – and are familiar enough with each of their sound – you may have a decent frame of reference with what to expect from Autistic Daughters. Then you’ll listen to them and they’ll exceed those expectations. I heard two songs from their 2004 release Jealousy and Diamond and immediately sought the quickest way possible to acquire both of their albums.  (The other being 2008’s Uneasy Flowers).

I resorted to purchasing them in digital format, of course, but owing to my preference for hard-copy I’ll be replacing them with CD versions. Possibly obsessive, possibly a pointless exercise, but I think it was worth it just to be able to hear them post-haste. 😉

Invisible Elephant - The Lights Go Out

I also made a nifty discovery on the site Bandcamp, called Invisible Elephant. I went there looking for something new and interesting, and I think I was pretty darn lucky to have found it as subsequent visits have failed to turn up anything to pique my interest. (This may have something to do with the rather non-existent search engine/terms. The only way to refine a search is by genre tag. Depending on the tag, this turns up vast amounts of artists and albums that would take hours to wade through, or only one or two that have picked such an obscure tag the only way to find it is by browsing all tags and picking it if it sounds interesting.  Or if you already know the artist you’re looking for. I find that somewhat annoying and think more options should be made available for casual browsers. But enough about my demands). Invisible Elephant’s album The Lights Go Out is a dreamy blend of post rock, shoegaze, psych and folk, which is more than worth the free download. I’ve rabbited on quite a bit about in various places so I’ll leave it now with a succinct: Grab it here. (That’s an order, not a dare ;)).

Have A Nice Life - Time of Land

Lastly, thanks once again to a recommendation, I was directed to take a peek at Have A Nice Life, currently offering a 4-track EP called Time of Land for free download here. I have it on decent authority that these tracks are much in the same vein as their album; rather, if you like the artist these songs will offer you something a little more, while not something much different. That’s ok with me, as if this EP is a good indication of what the album Deathconsciousness sounds like, I want it. 🙂 (Think: shoegaze, industrial, post-punk, psych… Appetising combo).

S4E